Some say, Robert Galvin invented Six Sigma in the 1880’s, instead, he applied methodologies that had been available since the 1920’s developed by luminaries such as: Shewhart, Deming, Juran, Ishikawa, Ohno, Shingo, Taguchi, and Shainin.
The idea behind Six Sigma is you can measure how many defects you have in a process, you can systematically figure out how to eliminate them and as close to zero defects as possible. We use this highly disciplined Six Sigma process to help us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services. Once data has been acquired, you then can identify and eliminate the root cause of defects and secure a flawless performance. The higher the sigma value, the less variation and fewer defects the process will have.
Six Sigma describes how a process is performing. Six Sigma begins with the customer, and a defect is defined as anything outside of the customers specifications. First, an organization takes it’s strategic goals and values to that of their customer’s needs and expectations and align them in what is called metrics. For each organization that seeks to achieve total customer satisfaction, quality experts regard Six Sigma as the strategic imperative. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities, and they have secured a 99.9966% success rate.
The fundamental objective of the Six Sigma methodology is the implementation of a measurement based strategy that focuses on process improvement through the use of two Six Sigma sub-categories, DMAIC and DMADV. The Six Sigma DMAIC, which stands for, define, measure, analyze, design, and control, is an improvement system for existing processes falling below specification and looking for incremental improvements.
The Six Sigma DMADV process, which stands for, define, measure, analyze, design, and verify, is an improvement system quality levels. Six Sigma implementation focuses on the process, whether it is in production or in a service environment. Six Sigma process are executed by trained experts, Green Belts and Black Belts, and are overseen by Master Black Belts who report to Six Sigma Champion.
The training of experts and Six Sigma data acquisition is costly, but the return on investment for Six Sigma is remarkable. According to the Six Sigma Academy, black belts can save their employers up to $230,000 per project and complete four to six projects a year.
Six Sigma success stories have become common industry knowledge, since inaugurated by Motorola in the mid-eighties. By 1994, Motorola reduced their manufacturing cost by $1.5 million. Since, Six Sigma was adopted by the notably General Electric (GE) and Allied Signal, now known as Honeywell. With that in mind, in 1996, Honeywell reported an increase of $1.4 billion on their bottom line within 3 years of Six Sigma improvements.
GE has since became the standard bearer for power-driven Six Sigma to all business areas, and not restricting it to the factory floor which was, according to Honeywell’s CEO Bob Galvin a mistake that cost Motorola at least $5 billion over a 4-year period. GE’s CEO, Jack Welsh then elevated Six Sigma to the greatest fulfillment engine ever devised. In 1999, Six Sigma contributed $2 billion to operating income for GE.